Patience. We all need to pray for it, right?
When I was a freshman in college, I was encouraged to join a group called a “life group.” The group was led by two upperclassmen that helped us newbies navigate the beginnings of college life. Because it was a Christian college, this group was also a prayer and Bible study group. At one meeting that I remember vividly, someone was struggling and requested prayer so she could receive patience through her situation. One leader sharply exclaimed, “Don’t ever pray for patience!” That didn’t sound quite right to the rest of us, so we asked her to give us an explanation of what she meant. “If you pray for patience, God will give you a situation that is difficult to grow your patience. You don’t want to have more difficulties, do you?” Although it seemed logically, it is not Biblical.
If you are a believer, James tells us to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” By all means, we are not to go looking for difficulties. However, we know that hard times will happen. During these times, we are to anchor our feet to the Rock (aka God) and withstand the storm. Once the clouds roll back, the sun shines down on us and gifts us with a spiritual reward. Our faith rewards us with an increase to our spiritual character, which is patience. Therefore, we now have a new tool to use for the next storm. We should “count it all joy” because we grow in our faith. Letting “patience have its perfect work” allows us to mature spiritually.
Countering my upperclassmen guide’s theory, James continues to tell us to “ask of God” for wisdom, if we are lacking. God “gives to all liberally and without reproach.”(v.5) However, when we go to God, we must have faith with no doubting. This sounds easier than it actually practicing it. Verse 6 says that “he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.” Have you ever been in a wind tossed boat? I personally have not and I am thankful, but our family recently watched a television show in which a family was on a big boat during a bad storm. Even the most experienced member of the family was heaving over the side. Being without faith is a lot like that. It can literally make you sick and at least fearful. Tossing to and fro, clinging to all sides can leave us so sick and afraid. Having faith during the storm is like our feet holding us upright and solid while everything around us is rocking back and forth. We must have faith when praying or else we will be full of doubts and distrustful of God.
Jesus says,” Whoever says to the mountain ‘be removed and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.” (Mark 11:23) So, in short, if you pray for rain, get out your rain boots and umbrella. Put your full trust in God. God will reward you for your trust, whether it be in gained in spiritual maturity or the answer you have been looking for.
So, in conclusion, pray for patience. Allow hard times to strengthen your relationship with God. Put your full trust in God. Grab your umbrella and count it all joy!
For further study go to my Bible Study Resource page for questions for this study.